Almost there: 5 Takeaways from Celtics/Knicks

Almost there: 5 Takeaways from Celtics/Knicks


#1 Boston needs to avoid defensive possessions like this

Three chances at scoring on the same possession. Two offensive rebounds ensured the New York Knicks could keep working to find a shot that would work for them. The Boston Celtics didn’t fly around the court the way they’ve been doing all season. Their close-outs were slower, and their box-outs were lackadaisical.

Yes, it took the Knicks three attempts to score. They shouldn’t have had that many chances—not on one possession, and certainly not in multiple scenarios like the one above.

In Boston’s last three games, they’ve given up 51 offensive rebounds: 17 against the Knicks, 12 against the Milwaukee Bucks and 22 against the Portland Trail Blazers.

While it’s easy to brush this rising trend off as ‘they will click back into gear then the playoffs begin,’ it’s worth noting that habits can be formed fairly quickly. I’m all for playing at half-speed over the last two games. I’m also perfectly fine with seeing a lot of deep bench lineups. But, if the core rotation ends up getting minutes, it would be wise to stress the importance of controlling the glass — to make sure no bad habits are creeping in.

#2 Guarding DHO’s

The Celtics are 25th for defending hand-off and DHO actions — I took at a closer look at that in my newsletter. They’re allowing teams to shoot roughly 50% from those sets. While the Celtics are susceptible after the hand-off has occurred, they’ve been doing a good job of limiting them from taking place. The Celtic’s top-lock cutters cancel hand-offs by getting in between the ball and the receiver. And they do a get job of stunting into space.

Watch how hard the Celtics fight to keep the Knicks from getting a hand-off to take place. By doing this, Boston is forcing New York to wear down the shot clock, with the desired outcome being the off-ball “receiver” cutting away from the ball and toward the basket. At this point, the Celtics will have help defenders ready to react and potentially be looking to play the passing lane.

Eventually, the hand-off does take place. The Celtics do a solid job of defending it and forcing a tough floater on the move. Unfortunately, an offensive rebound helps the Knicks get some points out of the possession.

#3 A new baseline play

This action is something we see the Celtics run in the halfcourt. However, the additional wrinkle is new.

The play starts off with Svi Mykhailiuk and Luke Kornet setting a stagger screen for Hauser, who is designed to be the decoy in this action. Hauser comes off Svi’s screen and curls through the space between the two screeners.

From there, Kornet looks to screen for Svi. The idea here is that Hauser’s defender will follow him on his cut, while Svi’s defender and Kornet’s defender will switch, creating a mismatch and giving Svi the advantage in a foot race as he looks to sink into the corner and shoot off the catch.

This action is known as an “Oklahoma Flare.”

However, Svi’s defender looks to top-lock the play. I’ve always referred to this as “canceling” the screen. When this happens, Svi faces and cuts his defender before snaking his way into the corner, where he still manages to get his shot off while on the move and sinks the attempt.

I liked this action because the design was solid and replicates and action we see in open play and because it forced the Celtics to problem-solve on the fly.

#4 Cruise control

“I saw that there was only one team in Eastern Conference that has their seed settled. And no one else does,” Joe Mazzulla said after the game. “I saw a high level of desperacy.”

This is what happens when you wrap up your season with weeks left on the schedule. It’s only logical that you take your foot off the gas. As fans, we want the team to be as healthy as possible in the playoffs. The tradeoff is some less-than-energetic performances and some losses in games the team likely would have won if they had been playing to the level we’ve seen from them for the majority of the season.

Nevertheless, if the Celtics end up back in the NBA Finals, a couple of head-scratching performances when there was nothing left to chase will be the last thing on anyone’s mind.

#5 Two more games left

Next on the agenda is a game against the Charlotte Hornets. Then, the Celtics will wrap up their season with a game against the Washington Wizards. I can’t wait. That means on Monday when I’m writing the takeaways, we will be getting ready to turn our attention to the playoffs.

Games will matter again. The Celtics will up their production and their execution. We will officially be on the road to what we hope is a championship. The NBA season is long. Yet this one has flown by in the blink of an eye. I guess that’s what happens when you’re having fun. And make no mistake, we’ve been having a blast.

I’ll catch you all tomorrow when there will only be one game remaining on the regular-season schedule.


Source link

Top of the Order: Mizuhara Set To Be Charged Previous post Top of the Order: Mizuhara Set To Be Charged
Liverpool fan starts crying on live stream after woeful 3-0 defeat to Atalanta Next post Liverpool fan starts crying on live stream after woeful 3-0 defeat to Atalanta